|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-02-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 8 February 2012 Issue No: 3992
 Party leaders' meeting with PM postponed for WednesdayThe joint meeting between political leaders (George Papandreou-PASOK, Antonis Samaras-ND and George Karatzaferis-LAOS) and Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, which was to be held late Tuesday afternoon at the Maximos Mansion in order to give the green light for the agreement with troika (EC,ECB,IMF) to be finalised, was postponed for Wednesday, sources said on Tuesday evening.
The same sources said that premier Papademos began a meeting with a delegation of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) headed by its managing director Charles Dallara, earlier on Tuesday evening, which was to be followed by a new meeting with the heads of the troika for the text of the new economic programme to be finalised.
 PM Papademos concludes meeting with IIFThe meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos with a delegation of the International Institute of Finance (IIF) headed by Charles Dallara on the PSI ended on Tuesday night.
 PM Papademos holding talks with troika representativesA meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the troika representatives began on Tuesday evening. Government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Employment Minister George Koutroumanis were also participating in the meeting being held at the Maximos Mansion.
 FinMin: Negotiations with troika 'tough', great pressure exterted on GreeceFinance minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the ongoing negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' leaders were "very tough" and great pressure was being exerted on Greece and the Greek people, in a statement in the early hours of Tuesday after completion of three hours of talks by prime minister Lucas Papademos and Venizelos with the troika that lasted until 3:00 a.m.
"The negotiations with the troika on the new programme are continuing and it is obvious that very great pressure is being exercised on Greece, very great pressure is being exercised on the Greek people, the Greek citizens, who are called on to face a dramatic and acute quandary, because the salvation of the country, its continued presence in the euro, the PSI, the finalisation of the new loan agreement and the disbursement of the money, which is of vital importance for the salvation of Greece, entail a very large social cost, they entail sacrifices," Venizelos stressed.
"No on wants to restrict salaries and pensions or the standard of living of the Greeks. But on the other hand a failure of the negotiations (with the troika), a failure of the programme, default by Greece, entails even greater sacrifices," he said.
Venizelos said: "The negotiation with the troika is so tough that we are constantly closing fronts and new fronts open up elsewhere, it is like the Lernaean Hydra. And because no one is a Hercules on his own to face the Lernaean Hydra we need...to wage this battle together, we need to convince the Greek people, to give then the picture of the entire plan, and to proceed to the solution that we have chosen, which is to remain in the euro, to stay in Europe and to fight to regain the lost ground."
"A lot of work, a very great effort and persistence are needed so that we may be proud once again," he added.
 PASOK head meets with ministers; receives visiting British minister for EuropePASOK leader George Papandreou held a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday with government vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Labour Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis, parliamentary spokesman Christos Protopapas, PASOK spokesman Panos Beglitis and the party's national council secretary Mihalis Karhimakis.
The meeting was held in view of a crucial session of political party leaders later in the evening under prime minister Lucas Papademos.
The leaders of the three political parties participating in the Papademos government will decide on supplementary pension cuts or on a combination of supplementary and main pension cuts.
Meeting with Lidington
Earlier, Papandreou had a meeting with British minister for Europe David Lidington at PASOK's party offices in Athens.
In the meeting that lasted roughly for an hour they discussed developments in Europe and the Eurozone within the framework of the economic crisis. According to information, the British official underlined that instability in the Eurozone will have to end because a negative development as regards the euro would be catastrophic for everybody.
According to reports, Lidington expressed support to the efforts made by the Greek people and the political parties participating in the alliance government formed to handle the debt crisis and emphasized that economic growth is necessary and cannot be handled only with the implementation of fiscal measures.
He also said that a reinforced role of the European Central Bank (ECB) would have helped in settling the European and Greek debt crisis.
Lidington, who is in Greece after a visit to Bulgaria, supported the Balkan states' EU course.
 LAOS leader on attraction of new investorsPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday tabled in parliament a current question addressed to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, in which he underlined the threat of recession and unemployment skyrocketing as a result of the stagnation in investments and the inefficiency in attracting new investors.
Bureaucracy and the unstable taxation environment as well as the delays in trials but foremost the prevailing insecurity, create strong reservations to investors who would be willing to send capital to Greece, stressed Karatzaferis.
 Tsipras: If Greece defaults, the biggest problem will be faced by the eurozoneIf Greece is led to irregular default, the banking system, salaries and pensions will face problems in Greece, but the biggest problem will be faced by the eurozone, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras warned on Tuesday, speaking on private SKAI television station.
"The debt is not sustainable...With the PSI, most of the money will go to the banks and to the bond-holders," Tsipras said, and reiterated his proposal for either a write-off of Greece's debt or for the country to be given a three-year period of time during which it would not make interest and amortisation payments to its creditors.
 LA.O.S, SYRIZA exchange harsh wordsA high-pitched verbal "clash" erupted on Tuesday between the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party -- one of the three political parties supporting the current Papademos government -- and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras.
LA.O.S president George Karatzaferis lashed out at Tsipras, after the latter had called the former a "a troika show presenter," stressing he worked hard all his life and that "his family was not favoured by the Greek junta".
Karatzaferis also referred to alleged preferential treatment of Tsipras' close relatives in dealings with the state concerning public projects.
SYRIZA responded with a statement accusing Karatzaferis of having in his party one of the defendants in a major loan-shark case that came to light recently in Thessaloniki.
LA.O.S lashed out stressing that it does not have robbers, terrorists, arms dealers and other anarchist forces in his ranks.
 Democratic Left party leader rejects possibility of a return to drachmaDemocratic Left (DHMAR) party president Fotis Kouvelis, speaking to the "Vima" radio station on Tuesday, stressed that the negotiating limits must be exhausted, but "in no way must we have the country's default and a return to the drachma."
"In no case does this negotiating, that I support, also mean acceptance of the possibility of the ccountry's return to the drachma. If such a thing is happening, then we shall turn many decades back," he said and assessed that such a thing will signal the country's economic and political isolation.
 Protesters demonstrate in central Athens against new austerity measuresA protest rally by unions opposed to whatever new austerity measures considered by government to meet EC-ECB-IMF "troika" demands was held in downtown Athens on Tuesday, part of industrial actions linked to a 24-hour strike declared by trade unionists.
In a petition delivered to Parliament, the unions expressed "opposition to measures included in the new memorandum which, aside from the dramatic impact on workers, it is also a confession of the dead end economic policy followed and its adverse consequences on real economy". The trade unions called for an end to the policies promoted by the government and the troika.
They also issued an "invitation of unity and struggle to all workers across the country and Europe" to "annul the nightmarish, disastrous and recession-causing designs of the powerful in Europe which promote a Europe of the markets and bankers and not a Europe of the citizens", as they said.
Only limited tension was reported outside Parliament when some protesters threw objects against anti-riot police. A heavy rainfall was cited as the reason for the more-or-less low turnout.
 Professionals' union cite 'united front' against troikaUnions representing lawyers, civil engineers and physicians announced a "united front" on Tuesday, aimed to undertake joint actions and mobilisations at the nationwide and European level to voice their opposition to the measures proposed by the troika (EC-ECB-IMF).
At the same time, they decided to spearhead what they claimed is a boycott campaign targeting German products.
 Papoutsis responds to EU commission on Evros fenceGreek Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis responded sharply on Tuesday to a comment by European Commission representative Michele Cercone, regarding the Evros fence.
Cercone claimed, in statements earlier in the day, that the fence was a "short-term solution that does not solve in a systematic way the structural problem of control of the borders and of immigration flows."
Commenting on the European representative's remark that the project will not be financed by EU funds, since it is considered "unnecessary", the Greek minister stressed: "At last, the hypocrisy and duplicity of Europe on handling illegal immigration must stop. On the one hand, they refuse the reconsideration of Dublin II, they are pressing Greece and threatening it with punishment on the guarding of external borders. On the other hand, when measures are taken and the projects go ahead, they keep distances and mock. It would be better for the European Commission to stay in the framework of its duties and to respect the legal order of the European Union."
Michele Cercone reiterated that the European Commission rejected the Greek authorities' appeal to jointly finance the creation of the fence along the Greek-Turkish borders at Evros.
Asked in this respect, Cerone replied that such measures are short-term and do not contribute to the combatting of the problem of illegal immigration. He said that Greece needs medium-term and long-term reforms for the effective managing of immigratiion flows and asylum applications.
 Greece and Cyprus sign Memorandum of CooperationNICOSIA (AMNA/A.Viketos/CNA)
A Memorandum of Cooperation between Greece and Cyprus was signed here on Tuesday, providing for the contribution of Greek experts to the efforts undertaken by Cyprus for the EU Council rotating presidency, at the 2nd half of 2012.
The Memorandum was signed after a meeting between Greek Foreign Ministry General Secretary Ioannis Zepos and his Cypriot counterpart Nikolaos Emiliou.
The Memorandum provides for the support, "at the best of our ability, of the Cyprus EU presidency with people who can help, experts in specific fields, because Greece wishes the Cyprus presidency is successful," Zepos said after the Memorandum was signed.
Replying to a question, Zepos said that Greek officials will be coming to Cyprus in order to help out at their particular field of expertise.
Asked which fields the Memorandum covers, he noted that it is flexible and that experts will be sent to help out as needed.
On his part, Emiliou thanked his Greek counterpart. "We are truly grateful to Greece, which will provide a large number of experts, not only in the fields covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also in fields covered by various other Ministries", he said.
According to Emiliou, the Greek officials will provide their expertise in Nicosia, in Brussels and in other countries where international organizations are based and their help might be needed in order to fulfill the Presidency's requirements.
Zepos was later received by Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Markoullis.
 Greece raises 812.5 million euro from 6-month T-bill auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bills issue raising 812.5 million euros from the market at an interest of 4.86 pct, up marginally from 4.85 pct in the previous auction of six-month Treasury bills on August 9, 2011.
The Public Debt Management Organization said the issue of the 26-week T-bill was 2.72 times oversubscribed, with bids amounting to 1.701 billion euro submitted, while the previous auction was 3.06 times oversubscribed.
The Organization said it covered the asked sum of 625 million euros and accepted supplementary non-competitive bids worth 187.5 million euros, raising the total sum raised to 812.5 billion euros.
The auction was held through the market's primary dealers with settlement date set for Friday, 10 February.
 Juncker offers cautious 'support' to proposal for special Greece accountBERLIN (AMNA / F. Karaviti)
Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday offered a cautious affirmative nod to a French-German proposal to set up a special account for the repayment of the Greek debt.
In an interview with a German radio station, Juncker said this was only a plan in its early form, and stressed "this is something we must not reject".
He reiterated that European partners believe that only if there were further austerity measures and completion of PSI talks would a new support package for Greece be approved and stressed that if this package was not approved then Greece could not pay its debt obligations in March.
"This is not a threat, but a description," Juncker said, while appearing optimist over the future of the euro currency.
 Greek businesses warn of risk of domestic defaultGreek enterprises are demanding a national default on their debt as a reaction to persecution suffered by the commerce sector from recent government austerity measures, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) said on Tuesday.
In an announcement, ESEE stressed that "these options might not comply with the definition of right behaviour but under the current circumstances, words and opinions have lost their meaning and everyone reacts on its own. In this framework, even a default could be supported by a series of rational arguments".
The managing council of ESEE unanimously agreed to send a letter of protest to the Prime Minister and political leaders expressing the agony of the commerce sector and warning over the danger of a domestic default on debt.
ESEE asks that the proposals of the sector to be heard in order to overcome basic economic problems, offering new hope to the market and restoring the faith of the commerce world to itself, leading the country back to recovery.
 Greek pension funds' losses from lower wages at 2.2 bln eurosGreek pension funds are expected to suffer losses totaling 2.2 billion euros from a proposed 20 pct cut in lower wages and social insurance contributions, Savvas Robolis, an economics professor and scientific director of the labor institute of GSEE and ADEDY, the trade unions of workers in the private and public sectors, respectively.
Speaking to AMNA, professor Robolis said this burden will worsen further the finances of pension funds which are already suffering from big deficits. He said that pension funds were already burdened by 6.5 billion euros from unemployment and flexible employment, while social contribution evasion was estimated at 8.0 billion euros because of thriving black labor.
Pension funds were also burdened by a protracted deep economic recession and the volume of non-collected debt owed by enterprises (estimated at around 11 billion euros).
A cut in wages by 9.2 billion euros in the period from 2009 until today is costing pension funds 4.2 billion euros annually, while pension funds have also suffered heavy losses in this period from a fall in bond prices included in their investment portfolios (estimated around 3.5 billion euros) excluding any losses resulting from a haircut in Greek state bonds.
Robolis stressed that cutting pension was not a solution to the problem and said that a 15 pct cut in supplementary pension would result to a 450 million euros benefit.
 Greece signs EU protocol to boost tourism with Latin AmericaBRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris)
Greek Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis on Tuesday signed a protocol of cooperation with Antonio Tajani, the vice-president of the European Commission, responsible for tourism affairs, aimed at boosting tourism between South America and Europe.
The protocol has already been signed by Italy, France, Spain, Lithuania and Poland, while all European travel agency unions, the union of European tour operators and Alitalia, Air France, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa and TAP all cooperated towards the success of the project.
The aim of the European program is to strengthen tourism cooperation between Europe and third countries, based on the common traditions, culture, linguistic and educational bonds. The countries which have signed this protocol will take measures to facilitating tourism between European and South American countries by promoting travel to the benefit of local economies.
The minister discussed with the Commission's vice-president issues related with European tourism policy.
 Greek-Chinese economic relations discussed in AthensEconomic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) president Christos Polyzogopoulos on Tuesday met with China's ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen, with talks focusing on an upcoming forum in the Greek capital aimed at reinforcing bilateral relations.
Polyzogopoulos underlined the friendly relations shared by the two countries and a new framework of cooperation between Athens and Beijing.
The one-time local labour leader briefed the Chinese ambassador on a recent visit to China by an OKE delegation and the agreement reached to organise a forum in Athens in September, with the participation of Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs and business people.
On his part, the senior Chinese diplomat expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation between OKE-Greece and OKE-China, as well as joint action focusing on economic growth.
 Athens airport cites notable reduction of annual carbon emissionsAthens International Airport (AIA) has achieved a 21-pct reduction in annual carbon emissions at its facilities -- corresponding to more than 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide -- a reduction larger than the anticipated European target of 20 pct by 2020, it was announced on Tuesday.
AIA participates in the volunteer initiative for the management and reduction of carbon emissions in airports launched in 2009.
A total of 55 European airports, representing 52 pct of Europe's passenger traffic, have received Airport Carbon Accreditation.
 Business Briefs-- Foreign investors cut their participation in the capitalisation at the Athens Stock Exchange to 49.7 pct in January, down from 50.9 pct in December 2011, while local investors raised their participation to 48.8 pct from 47.5 pct over the same periods, respectively.
 Stocks jump 2.19 pctStocks continued moving significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as the market discounted a positive outcome in negotiations with the troika over a new lending agreement for Greece. The composite index of the market ended above the 800 mark for the first time since October 31, 2011, after rising as high as 830 points in intra-day trading in the session of February 1. The index rose 2.19 pct to end at 802.21 points, while turnover rose slightly to 87.840 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 3.17 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 3.17 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.82 pct. The Banks (6.48 pct), Commerce (6.02 pct) and Financial Services (4.12 pct) were top gainers while Media (9.65 pct) and Travel (2.35 pct) suffered losses.
Eurobank (17.06 pct), Hellenic Postbank (11.11 pct), Piraeus Bank (10 pct), Alpha Bank (8.86 pct) and Folli Follie (6.23 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (2.47 pct), OTE (1.07 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.18 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 83 to 68 with another 29 issues unchanged. Douros (20 pct), HOL (19.80 pct) and Teletypos (19.64 pct) were top gainers, while Attikat (20 pct), Technical Publications (20 pct), Ridenco (18.18 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.04%
Personal & Household: +2.26%
Raw Materials: +2.37%
Travel & Leisure: -2.35%
Food & Beverages: +1.47%
Financial Services: +4.12%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.72
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.68
HBC Coca Cola: 14.92
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.68
National Bank of Greece: 2.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.95
Bank of Piraeus: 0.65
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.75 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 36.347 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,834 contracts worth 25.045 million euros, with 22,253 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 50,852 contracts worth 11.302 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (19,433), followed by Cyprus Bank (2,275), MIG (358), OTE (1,051), PPC (734), OPAP (832), Piraeus Bank (5,096), Alpha Bank (17,727), Marfin Popular Bank (556), Mytilineos (730), Hellenic Postbank (657) and GEK (409).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.331
Pound sterling 0.842
Danish kroner 7.545
Swedish kroner 8.953
Japanese yen 102.18
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.736
Canadian dollar 1.328
Australian dollar 1.234
 Evros on flood alertThe Evros River region was placed in a state of emergency late Monday night as the water level was constantly rising in the riverbed on the Greek side due to inflow of waters from Bulgaria, posing a high risk of overflowing and flooding.
Homes in the town of Ormenios, next to the Greek-Bulgarian border, were evacuated in the first hours of Tuesday for precautionary reasons after overflowing water from the Evros reached the town square. A total of 15 people were evacuated and put up by relatives or in hotels in the area.
Authorities are also on alert to evacuate the nearby villages of Dikaio and Nea Vyssa, as well as homes in Marasia, old Sagini, Pythio and Praggio for precautionary reasons.
According to the Civil Protection directorate, the continuous increase in quantities of water flowing into the Greek side from Bulgaria via the Evros River and the tributaries Ardas and Tountza, flooding is anticipated in the next few hours in almost all the villages along the Evros, gradually from north to south.
The directorate issued an urgent warning to the residents of the area to immediately remove agricultural equipment, livestock and personal goods from the danger zones, to stay away from the embankments and to avoid being alone on farms.
Meanwhile, light snow flurries are falling throughout all of Evros prefecture, in a new cold front that has hit northern Greece, causing schools in Soufli to remain closed.
 River overflew in Central Greece, three trappedA large area of Lamia plain in central Greece was flooded on Tuesday after the overflow of Sperchios River, a phenomenon that has not been recorded in the last ten years. The continuing snowfall brought a large quantity of water resulting in the overflow of the river.
Thousands of acres were covered with water and the traffic in the area turned into a nightmare.
Three people which attempted to pass with their cars from the area, were swept away by the torrential waters which had covered the road and were trapped. A rescue operation was launched and the Fire Brigade with the assistance of a special vehicle rescued them.
 40-year-old woman drowns in torrent on Symi islandA 40-year-old British woman, a resident of the island of Symi, Aegean Sea, was swept away by torrential waters and drowned late Monday.
The woman, in an attempt to save her motorbike which had been swept away, was trapped in the torrent and drowned.
The woman's body was found two hours later following a rescue operation.
A toddler that was with the woman was saved.
 Patras - Corinth motorway closed until Saturday due to rockslideThe Patras-Corinth motorway will remain closed until Saturday due to a rockslide in the area of Diakopto.
According to sources, this decision has been reached in order to enable a comprehensive tackling of the specific problem on the motorway.
Traffic will be carried out via the old motorway. Toll fees will not be collected as long as the road remains closed.
 Two arrested for string of armed robberiesPolice arrested two individuals while other two are still wanted, all members of an alleged gang of robbers made up of three local men and an Albanian national, it was announced on Tuesday. The suspects are accused of committing a total of 25 armed robberies, targeting newsstands and gas stations in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Arrest warrants have been issued in Thessaloniki for the two assailants still at large.
 Discharged conscript arrested for stealing equipment from his unitA 25-year-old conscript from Crete was arrested Tuesday at a bus station in Thessaloniki, charged with stealing military equipment from the unit he had been serving in on the island of Limnos.
The stolen equipment was found in his luggage during a search at an inter-city bus station in Thessaloniki.
According to police, a training hand grenade, gun parts and other military equipment were found and confiscated.
Police said the man had been discharged from the unit a few days earlier and was traveling from Thessaloniki to his hometown of Hania after completing his conscription term.
They said that the man had gradually stolen the equipment throughout his term and hidden it in an abandoned building on the island.
 Illegal migrants dead of suffocationThe death of three young Afghan nationals who were found on Monday on the Preveza-Igoumenitsa motorway, northwestern Greece, inside a truck loaded with cotton seed was, according to the coroner, attributed to suffocation.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -5C and 13C. Showery with sleet in Athens, with northerly 6-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 3C to 6C. Cloudy with periodic snowfall in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -3C to 2C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe ongoing negotiations with the troika (EC, ECB, IMF) and meeting later in the day with prime minister Lucas Papademos of the three party leaders supporting the interim government to finalise the new loan agreement, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "They want to extend Papademos' government tenure for another year!".
AVGHI: "Occupation scenery".
AVRIANI: "They are destroying the country, bringing people to squalor and dissolving the political system!".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Main pensions under troika's microscope".
ESTIA: "Political parties' major responsibilities".
ETHNOS: "The sacrifices in salaries, pensions and layoffs".
KATHIMERINI: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's unbearable pressure".
LOGOS: "The red lines became 'red ribbons'."
NAFTEMPORIKI: "European Commission warns: Your time is over".
NIKI: "Finally, instead of two they will take three salaries away from us".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone take part in the strike on Tuesday with PAME (labour organisation affiliated with Communist Party of Greece)
TA NEA: "Pressure for cutbacks until the last minute".
VRADYNI: "Squalor - The new measures' repercussions".
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